New Traditions 2010

Looking forward—with a nod to the past—Alison Womack Jowers redefines classic style for today.

When designer Alison Womack Jowers took on this Buckhead residence, it was already close to her heart. She was, after all, dating the homeowner, Jay Jowers.

“When we started, I didn’t know if I’d eventually be living here, too, or not!” she says with a laugh. But as the project progressed so did the relationship and, by the time the house was nearing completion, the two were engaged and eventually married. Thus, the designer was able to infuse some of her own personal preferences, as well.

That wouldn’t have been so easily accomplished if she hadn’t started with such a solid “canvas” based on a primarily neutral palette. It lends itself to a comfortable, make-yourself-at-home feeling but—at the same time—it’s smartly chic, too. “I wanted the house to have sophisticated design by using traditional elements, but with an edge,” the designer explains.

In the living room, for instance, neutral fabrics get added visual interest thanks to a variety of textures and the shapely silhouettes of the upholstered pieces themselves. At one end of the room, a pair of French chairs teams up with a sofa, their classic forms emphasized with nailhead trim. At the other, a pair of armchairs with softly curved backs—wrapped in silk—anchor the fireside seating area, quietly complementing a stunning Chinoiserie coffee table.

“It was made in the 1950s by a father-and-son team famous for Mid-century modern furniture,” Womack Jowers explains. “The artists describe it as ‘furniture as functional art.’ I immediately loved it, so much so that I bought it before I even researched it!” But part of the draw, she adds, was the father-and-son aspect—not surprising since she’s part of a mother-and-daughter design team herself. Womack Jowers and her mother, Cheryl Womack, own Womack Interiors.

The same neutral approach grounds the dining room, where a glass-top table is surrounded by chairs covered in a Jim Thompson silk horizontal strié. Not surprisingly, given her keen attention to detail, Womack Jowers gimped the chairs with a slight fringe edge to add textural interest. But the pièce de résistance in this room is unquestionably the Paul Montgomery hand-painted panels that line the walls. Initially chosen to reflect her now-husband’s love of birds and flowers, they also reflect the designer’s signature style of keeping things light. “I love Chinoiserie but nothing too bold or heavy,” she says, “and these panels begin the tone of softness that continues throughout the house.”

It’s that kind of twist on tradition that gives the entire residence its fresh appeal. It’s the green-and-white Michael Devine fabric that upholsters the walls of the back hallway. It’s the antique trumeau mirror in the family room that—unlike more typical painted and gilt types—has a casual wood finish that contrasts beautifully with the painted-brick fireplace. It’s even the subtle pops of yellow in the master bedroom, balancing the surrounding cool gray hues with just the right touch of warmth.

But, at the end of the day, what satisfies the designer most about this project? Not a treasured antique nor any design find, for that matter.

“What I like best is knowing that my husband is comfortable, relaxing in a chair in a room that he loves,” she says. “Knowing that everyone—children, guests and the dogs—are all comfortable. It puts a smile on my face.”


INTERIOR DESIGN Alison Womack Jowers. Cheryl Womack and Alison Womack Jowers, Womack Interiors, (404) 256-0704;